The Language of Kindness evaluation – shifting recollections of nursing
In The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story, Christie Watson writes of a giant tub of decaf espresso saved in her hospital workplace for years. It has by no means been opened. Her memoir captures the caffeinated rush of a occupation that, she writes, “requires fluidity, with the ability to adapt and push vitality within the path the place sufferers and colleagues want you”.
The dynamism of her writing and the adrenalised hospital surroundings lend themselves to bodily theatre. Wayward Productions’ staging of the guide, tailored and directed by Sasha Milavic Davies and James Yeatman, builds a choreography out of every day practices: washing fingers, making beds, darting from one affected person to the subsequent. You sense the muscle reminiscence and the unstated understanding between nurses working aspect by aspect. “They get a really feel for issues,” we’re advised – even sensing ache earlier than it occurs.
Not like Nina Raine’s extra character-driven A&E drama Tiger Nation, The Language of Kindness presents impressionistic sketches, heightened by sound designer Gareth Fry’s unsettling beeps and whirrs. If these noises handle to really feel each otherworldly and genuine to hospital life, so does Jess Bernberg’s lighting design. Zoë Hurwitz’s set evokes that blend of vacancy and togetherness specific to hospitals, in addition to the drabness and bursts of cheery color. Vivid helium balloons kind an set up of kinds that might be higher built-in into the manufacturing. Among the extra fantastical sequences of motion really feel uneven, resembling a prolonged episode combining a affected person’s tortured dance solo with a calypso designed to consolation her, carried out by three nurses sporting rubber-glove skirts.
Watson’s experiences are shared by a number of performers, with detailed consideration paid to procedures, feelings and senses – these unusual recollections that linger from medical experiences, resembling Watson’s personal recollection of being fed an orange yoghurt by a nurse as an eight-year-old. It creates immediacy however you miss out on distinct characterisation of Watson and any of her colleagues and on a wider perspective of the hierarchies, bureaucracies and politics within the healthcare system. Watson’s memoir was printed in 2018, after she retired, however she returned to nursing throughout the pandemic. The place of the NHS in our nationwide life throughout the Covid disaster hangs over the present however will not be particularly explored.
Effectively carried out by an ensemble of six, with Rina Fatania notably good within the comedian moments, the present vividly juxtaposes a nurse’s brisk, caring effectivity with non-public turmoil. Within the opening scenes, one nurse calmly assists a lady by way of labour whereas admitting to us that she is shocked by the blood, gunk and screams as she is delivering her first child. Within the highly effective closing, we hear in regards to the emotional toll of the job; one nurse says she was provided counselling however would by no means have had the time to take it. You’re left in awe of our military of carers and painfully conscious they deserve better care themselves.
At Shoreditch City Corridor, London, till 12 June. Livestreamed on 10 June.